TOP 20 Steel and Metal Collocations

Based on the computer analysis of millions of words from construction books and publications, here are the Top 20 noun-noun collocations that describe different steel materials.

Collocations help make your communication clear and simple.

Read a mini lesson about  collocations here.

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1. Metal channel

2. Metal decking

3. Metal framing

4. Steel framing

5. Metal panel

6. Metal rod

7. Steel rod

8. Metal roofing

9. Metal stud

10. Metal tubing

11. Metal grating

12. Steel angle

13. Steel beam

14. Steel column

15. Steel joist

16. Steel plate

17. Steel reinforcement

18. Steel reinforcing

19. Steel member

20. Steel sections


Native English speakers often use the words 'Metal' and 'Steel' to describe the same thing.

Just to be careful, here are some general rules to follow.


Is a general term.  Depending on the context, it could be structural or non-structural.

Try to use the term 'Metal' when:

  1. you want to describe the general properties of something (a metal chair)
  2. you are referring to something that's NOT part of the PRIMARY STRUCTURE.  (metal panel, metal roofing, metal framing, etc)


Is a specific term.

Try to use the term 'Steel' when:

  1. you want to describe the general properties of something (a steel fastener)
  2. you want to make sure it's understood that the material is STEEL.
  3. you are referring to something that IS part of the PRIMARY STRUCTURE.  The primary structure consists of beams, columns, bracing, connections, and all other parts of the structure that support the design.


Metal channel 

Metal channels are light gauge and cold formed.

Light gauge means thin.

Cold formed means that they are made by bending thin steel without heating.


Steel channel

Steel channels are structural.

Steel channels are hot rolled (made by heating metal at a high temperature and rolling through a machine)


Metal decking (also steel decking)

Metal decking is structural.  It is most often covered with concrete to form floor or roof slabs. 

Sometimes it isn't covered with concrete and just spans between secondary roof framing members and supports the roof insulation and roofing materials.

Metal framing

Metal framing usually refers to cold-formed, light gauge studs, channels and other shapes.

Metal framing can be structural if it is engineered.

Steel framing

Steel framing is a general term.  It could be structural or non-structural shapes.


Metal rod

Also called

Steel rod

Steel reinforcement

Steel reinforcing

Reinforcement is the general action or function of something.

Reinforcing describes the actual system or object.


Metal panel

Metal panel is a general term describing any flat, thin sheet of metal.  It can be any type of metal (stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, etc)


Metal roofing


Metal stud (also steel stud)

Studs are metal framing.


Metal tubing (also steel tubing)

Tubing is any shape that's hollow. (open in the middle)


Metal grating (also steel grating)

Grating can be structural or non-structural.


Steel angle

Steel angles are hot rolled, and are most often structural.


Steel beam

Steel beams are hot rolled, horizontal steel structural framing members.


Steel column

Steel columns are hot rolled, vertical steel structural framing members.


Steel joist

Also called open web joists.


Steel plate

Steel plate is often structural.


Steel member

Member is a general term.  Steel members are any part of a primary structural system.  Beams, columns, girts, joists, etc.

Steel sections

Steel section describes the profile or shape of a structural steel member.   Engineers use the section properties for their calculations.


Be sure to check out the Top 20 Concrete Collocations lesson here

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